Commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth is observed on June 19.
The celebration originated in Texas when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston. He announced on June 19, 1865, with General Orders, Number 3 that the Civil War was over and all slaves were now freedmen.
News traveled slowly, even stubbornly during and after the War between the States. The Emancipation Proclamation had been signed over two years earlier. General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox two months before, and President Lincoln had already been laid to rest. The official final surrender had taken place just weeks before but the word, official word, seemed to be required to impact what was already happening in the rest of the country.
The celebration of Juneteenth grew from the profound experience that day when many learned of their freedom to the surmounting challenges that lay ahead and the lasting perseverance required for dignity, to overcome adversity and achieve fulfillment. Year after year, pilgrimages have been made to Galveston and celebrations have spread around the country and the world. In 2015, Juneteenth celebrated its 150th anniversary.
January 1, 1863 – Emancipation Proclamation signed
April 9, 1865 – General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
April 14, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln assassinated
May 12, 1865 – Final battle of Civil War at Palmito Ranch, Texas (Confederate victory)
May 26, 1865 – Civil War official ends when General Simon Bolivar Buckner of the Army of Trans-Mississippi enters terms of surrender
December 6, 1865 – 13th Amendment abolishing slavery ratified
HOW TO OBSERVE
Juneteenth has grown into a festival celebrating the art, food, education and history of the African-American culture. Across the country, a variety of events take place with delicious food, art, music, dance, parades and the history of Juneteenth at the center of the festivities. Find one near you and use #Juneteenth to share on social media.
Since General Major Gordon Granger reached Galveston on June 19, 1865, Juneteenth (coined by combining June and nineteenth), has grown in waves. With the 150th anniversary, the celebration has gone worldwide.